in Vienna Amon Goeth joined a Nazi youth group at seventeen, moved to a
nationalist paramilitary group at nineteen, and, in 1930, when he was
twenty-two, joined the then outlawed Austrian Nazi Party. He was
designated No. 510,964, and in the same year he joined the S.S.
Amon Goeth fled to Germany when he was pursued by Austrian authorities for
crimes involving explosives. His superior officers admired his
devotion, gave him glowing personal evaluations and transferred him to the
S.S. A son was born in 1939 and died of unexplained causes less than a
year later. Amon Goeth was a model officer, and his reward was a posting,
in August, 1942, with Aktion Reinhard, the S.S. operation to liquidate
more than two million Polish Jews.
His posting as commandant at Plaszow was his career zenith ...
The conditions of life at Plaszow were made dreadful by Amon Goeth. A
prisoner in Plaszow was lucky if he survived more than four weeks.
Collective punishment became frequent, torture and death were daily
events. Groups passing one another on different work shifts reported the
daily number killed.
In 1943 on Yom Kippur, an important holiday of the Jewish year, Goeth and
his SS-men took 50 Jews from the barracks and shot them. Often prisoners
were publicly hung, with more than 15,000 inmates lined up on the ground.
Moshe Beijski - a Schindler Jew who later became a High Court Judge in
Israel - gave this testimony at the trial of the war criminal Adolf
those people stood on the ground, and the two persons were brought to the
gallows: a lad of 15, Haubenstock, and the engineer Krautwirt, and an
order was given to hang them. It was said in the camp that young
Haubenstock had sung a Russian tune. The boy was hanged and something
happened which occurs once in many thousands of cases - the rope broke.
The boy stood there, he was again lifted on to a high chair which was
placed under the rope, and he began to beg for mercy. An order was given
to hang him a second time. And then he was raised a second time to the
gallows, and hanged, and thereafter that same Amon Goeth, with his own
hands, also fired a shot.
The engineer Krautwirt, throughout that time, stood on the second chair,
and here the perfidy went even further. SS men, with their guns, and
machine guns, passed through the ranks, and gave orders to all those
standing on the ground to watch. Engineer Krautwirt cut the veins of his
hands with a razor blade, and in this condition went up to the gallows.
And in this way he was hanged."
the same trial Moshe Beijski told more about Amon Goeth and the other
methods of punishment used by the Camp Commandant:
case of Olmer, whose daughter lives in Jerusalem, and I know her .. He was
summoned by the Camp Commandant Amon Goeth. The Camp Commandant had two
dogs, Ralf and Rolf, and he set the dogs on him. The dogs ate him up
alive. Possibly a little breath still remained in him. He shot him and he
was killed ..
A group that appeared with food in its possession .. a particular group of
the Abladekommando, a unit which was in charge of the offloading of goods
from the railway station - they found food in its possession. Then the
camp commander, Untersturmfuehrer Amon Goeth, came up and asked whose food
it was. When no one answered, he took a young man whose name was
Nachmansohn .. and shot him. On the same occasion he shot another man,
Disler. And then someone had a brilliant idea and said that they had
brought the food .. Then everyone received one hundred lashes.
One of the men - named Mandel - remained lying there until the group was
taken to the parade ground, and there everyone received his deserts.
He himself had to count the blows, and if he made an error in the
counting, he had to go back to the beginning .. There was an instance with
that group where one of the older men was beaten and cried out a great
deal, and after that had to go to Goeth and to inform him that he had
received his punishment, and he thanked him for it. When he turned around,
he shot him, and he, too, was killed."
brother of Moshe Beijski, Dov Beijski, survived Plaszow, too. He later
"Early in May 1944 we were all paraded and ordered to strip naked.
All inmates were run before him and he sent them right or left, to which
side the old, weak and defective or juvenile were sent. Two days later
they were separated, placed on good wagons and were joined by the 250
children in the camp. The outcry was stifled by SS guns pointed at us all,
and loudspeakers played lullabies. More than 1200 adults and 250 children
were taken to Auschwitz and the death chambers. One boy of 12 or 13 named
Jerzy Spiro managed to escape and hid all day in the cesspit at the
latrine, with only his head uncovered. I do not know whether he survived
the war .."
At Plaszow Amon Goeth passed his mornings by using his high-powered,
scoped rifle to shoot at children playing in the camp. Rena Finder, one of
Schindler's Jews then 14 years old, later remembered Goeth as "
.... the most vicious and sadistic man ...". Another
Schindler-Jew, Poldek Pfefferberg, recalled Goeth this way: "When
you saw Goeth, you saw death."
A survivor, Arthur Kuhnreich, later told about Amon Goeth in his Holocaust
Memories: "I saw Goeth set his dog on a Jewish prisoner. The
dog tore the victim apart. When he did not move anymore, Goeth shot
The 20-year-old Schindler-worker Isak Pila had made the mistake of
falling asleep under a table at the factory the same day that Amon
Goeth came by for an inspection. When Goeth saw the sleeping boy, he told Oscar
Schindler to kill him instantly. Schindler desperately tried to find a
way out and hit the boy on one side of the face, then the other. Finally
he said to Goeth, 'He's had enough. I need him ...' And Isak Pila
survived the Holocaust.
Oscar Schindler somehow managed to outwit Goeth and the Nazis. When he
requested that his Jews were moved into their own sub-camp near the plant 'to
save time in getting to the job,' Goeth complied. From then on,
Schindler found that he could have food and medicine smuggled into the
barracks with less danger. The guards, of course, were bribed, and Goeth
never was to discover it, though Oscar Schinder was arrested twice.
Amon Goeth was arrested in the autumn of 1944 in connection with an
investigation of corruption and black market activities in the camps, the
same investigation that brought about the execution of Karl Koch and
Hermann Florstedt. Goeth was also suspected of embezzlement, but before he
could be put on trial the war ended.
He was recuperating in an SS-sanitarium in Bad Tolz when he was arrested
by Patton's troops in February 1945. The Americans turned him over to the
In his memoirs Death Dealer the SS Commandant at Auschwitz, Rudolph
Hoess - history's greatest mass murderer - later recalled: 'During that
time a crowd had gathered and angrily cursed at us. Major Goeth was
recognized immediately. If the car had not arrived when it did, we would
have been bombarded with stones ...'
At the trial at the Supreme National Tribunal of Poland, Cracow,
27th - 31st August and 2nd - 5th September, 1946, Goeth was found guilty
and convicted of the murders of tens of thousands of people.
Amon Goeth as commandant of the forced labour camp at Plaszow (Cracow)
from 11th February, 1943, till 13th September, 1944, caused the death of
about 8,000 inmates by ordering a large number of them to be exterminated.
(2) As a SS-Sturmführer Amon Goeth carried out the final closing down of
the Cracow ghetto. This liquidation action which began on 13th March,
1943, deprived of freedom about 10,000 people who had been interned in the
camp of Plaszow, and caused the death of about 2,000.
(3) As a SS-Hauptsturmführer Amon Goeth carried out on 3rd September,
1943, the closing down of the Tarnow ghetto. As a result of this action an
unknown number of people perished, having been killed on the spot in
Tarnow. Others died through asphyxiation during transport by rail or were
exterminated in other camps, in particular at Auschwitz.
(4) Between September, 1943, and 3rd February, 1944, Amon Goeth closed
down the forced labour camp at Szebnie near Jaslo by ordering the inmates
to be murdered on the spot or deported to other camps, thus causing the
death of several thousand persons.
his trial Goeth displayed provocative indifference. He accepted
responsibility for what happened at Plaszow. He had been given authority
and permission to do everything he had done, he said, and was only
carrying out orders and instructions received from his superiors. He also
contended that the penalties he was inflicting upon the inmates
including putting them to death, were within his disciplinary jurisdiction
as commandant of the camp, and were in accordance with the German
regulations in force.
Goeth appealed for mercy to the President of the State National Council.
After the President had decided not to avail himself of his prerogative of
pardon, the sentence was carried out.
Amon Goeth was hanged for his crimes on September 13, 1946, not far from
his camp. And even though he is being hanged, Amon Goeth still salutes his
Fuhrer in one final act of defiance ...